Saturday, July 16, 2011

Capitals nip Breakers in thriller

   Mark Knowles wasn't even sure he would be able to play Friday night.
   The three-time World TeamTennis MVP not only played, he practically willed the Sacramento Capitals to a critical victory.
   In a match that came down to the last point, Sacramento rallied for a 19-18 victory over the rival Newport Beach Breakers at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights.
   At 4-4 in the decisive tiebreaker, Knowles put away a volley in mixed doubles to end the thriller before a delirious announced crowd of 2,112 at 2,500-seat Capitals Stadium.
   Facing Travis Rettenmaier and Marie-Eve Pelletier, Knowles and Vania King overcame deficits of 0-2 in the set and 1-3 in the tiebreaker.
    Sacramento, which started the season 1-3, moved back into first place in the Western Conference at 5-4. St. Louis (5-5) and Kansas City (4-4) trail by one-half match.
   With the Capitals' next three matches on the road, including Monday night at 9-0 Washington, they needed a victory over Newport Beach  (3-6). Realistically, Sacramento must finish at least 8-6 in the regular season to reach the playoffs.
   Knowles, who will turn 40 in September, was questionable for Friday's match after hurting his right (playing) shoulder Thursday night at Kansas City.
   Mardy Fish, the top American among men or women at No. 9 in the world in singles, had been scheduled to join the Capitals for the match and could have substituted for Knowles. But Fish withdrew Thursday morning because of an abdominal muscle injury.
   As a precautionary measure, Sam Warburg came out of retirement for one night. The 28-year-old Sacramento native played for the Capitals from 2005 through 2009, helping them win their record sixth WTT title in 2007.
   Warburg, however, remained on the bench. Knowles lost 5-3 in his other set, men's doubles with Dusan Vemic.
   Sacramento led 10-4 behind Vemic (men's singles) and King and Yasmin Schnack (women's doubles), but Newport Beach came back to tie the score 14-14 entering the last set before nearly pulling out the match.
    The Breakers won't have to wait long for a chance at revenge. They host the Capitals tonight at 7:15.  
   Capitals 19, Newport Beach 18
   Men's singles -- Dusan Vemic, Capitals, def. Lester Cook, NB, 5-3.  
   Women's doubles -- Vania King and Yasmin Schnack, Capitals, def. Marie-Eve Pelletier and Anne Keothavong, NB, 5-1.
   Men's doubles -- Cook and Travis Rettenmaier, NB, def. Vemic and Mark Knowles, Capitals, 5-3.
   Women's singles -- Keothavong, NB, def. King, Capitals, 5-1.
   Mixed doubles -- Knowles and King, Capitals, def. Rettenmaier and Pelletier, NB, 5-4.

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